On a Friday night, just like every night, I let my three dogs go out in the backyard for 10 minutes to do their business before going to bed. When I opened the door to let them back in, Lucky, my 4-year old (and oldest) dog was missing, so I went out to get him, only to find him lying there on the ground, unconscious, barely breathing, in a puddle of his own blood.
Adrenaline rushed through my entire body and, within seconds, I was in my car on my way to the animal hospital. The veterinarian looked mildly surprised as he informed me that a coyote had attacked my dog. He said that he sees animals hurt by coyotes every other day, and that no one really talks about it.
A customer who was waiting mentioned that she had lost a dog and two cats to coyotes. She said I was very fortunate to have my dog in one piece, because all that was left of her cat was the head and the spine. Seconds later, my neighbors called, telling me that they had seen a coyote walking along my wall.
We are a young couple, and our dogs are the closest thing we have to children, so I was devastated, angry and in shock at the same time.
Our house is among the largest in Costa Mesa. Our backyard is surrounded by 8-foot walls, and our property is fenced in, walled in and gated. I had no idea that coyotes could jump this high and venture this deep onto human properties, past walls, gates and fences.
Lucky suffered too many injuries and passed away two days later. We paid more than $8,000 in veterinarian fees. They did everything they could, but they couldn't save him. We take comfort in knowing that he died because he wanted to protect his sister.
Various veterinarians have told me that such attacks are commonplace, yet the victims seem to keep to themselves, most likely due to their feelings of guilt. I wish that someone would have warned us that our young children, dogs and cats should not be outside between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Residents should be reminded about the presence and danger that wild animals, specifically coyotes, represent. Coyotes are learning how to adapt to our urban environment. We can no longer assume that they are afraid of humans.
In fact, just last week, there have been three coyote attacks on humans on the West Coast, two of them in Southern California, the third one involving a 5-year-old girl. If you go back further, children have been attacked and killed in their back- and front yards.
Coyotes are hunters. They run extremely fast and can jump up to 14 feet high and dig deep underground, making most walls and fences ineffective. They are also very intelligent and can watch a residence for days, observing your habits, in order to choose the right moment to attack.
They are living all around us, and their numbers have been steadily increasing, as they are at the top of the food chain. Their food supply, however has not kept up, so they need to venture out of their regular habitat to survive.
I do not want my dog's death to be for nothing. I do not want to see the city take reactive measures following the death of a child in our city. We need to be proactive.
CHRISTY ROGET is a Costa Mesa resident.